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Prize for Undergraduate Library Research

About the Prize for Undergraduate Library Research


The purpose of the Prize for Undergraduate Library Research is to recognize academic excellence in student research utilizing library resources and information literacy practices.


To be eligible to win, applicants must:

  • Be a currently enrolled Northwestern undergraduate (Traditional or Adult Undergraduate) with 60 or more credits and in any major;
  • Have written a research paper (not necessarily the final draft) for a credit course at Northwestern during either the previous calendar year or the current Spring semester (Spring 2023, Fall 2023 or Spring 2024);
  • Submit research that was not done in formal collaboration with a faculty member;
  • Agree to present their research paper at a library event;
  • Give permission for the paper to be posted and/or archived electronically.

Application Procedure

Completed applications will include the following:

  • A completed application form (see the link, below).
  • A final (or in-process draft) version of the research paper, including a bibliography of sources used.
  • A 500 – 750 word essay describing the research methods and information gathering process used, as well as what was learned throughout the process. (See Reflection Essay Guidelines, below.)

Completed application packages must be submitted online via this form by 11:59 PM on Monday, April 22, 2024.  (*Note that the reflective essay and paper can be submitted as part of the same Word document. See the examples of past prize winners, below.)

Selection Criteria

A panel composed of University of Northwestern – St. Paul faculty and librarians will judge entries on the evidence of the applicant’s research strategy and personal learning as evinced in the paper and bibliography, and summarized in a reflective essay. 

Submissions will be evaluated based on how well they demonstrate the following:

  • Sophistication, originality and/or unusual depth or breadth in the use of library collections, including, but not limited to print or electronic resources, databases, primary resources, and media materials.
  • Exceptional ability to locate, select, evaluate, and effectively use library resources in the creation of a research paper that shows originality and/or has the potential to lead to original research in the future.
  • Evidence of significant personal learning in the methods of research and the information gathering process, and the development of a habit of research and inquiry that shows a likelihood of persisting in the future.


An award of $300 will be given to the submitted paper that best exemplifies the selection criteria. 


Contact Jessica Nelson Moore ( or Greg Rosauer ( with questions or concerns.

Reflection Essay Guidelines

The reflective essay is the centerpiece of an application for this prize. It unites the research paper, resources, and intellectual and creative efforts that brought your work to fruition.  The essay allows you to explain your engagement with and passion for your subject and your material.

  • What drew you to the resources you used? How did you locate the material? Tell us if and how faculty, librarians, classmates, or others helped you in your research process.
  • In writing your paper, how did you determine what materials were most suitable?
  • What strategies did you employ as you searched catalogs, databases, archives and/or special collections?
  • How did you winnow and refine the citations you found into a meaningful bibliography to support your work and inform your readers?
  • What did you learn about research through the completion of this project?

The reflective essay is the narrative that gives life to your scholarly process. 

2023 Prize for Undergraduate Library Research

The winner of the 2023 Prize for Undergraduate Library Research is Joel Broberg!

Joel's paper was written for the Spanish Capstone class, entitled “El español de los quechuas: Un caso de contacto lingüístico en los Andes” (“The Spanish of the Quechua: A case of language contact in the Andes”). In his reflective essay, Joel writes, "I review the literature surrounding the history, degree, and typological variety of the influence that Quechua has had upon dialects of Spanish spoken in northwestern South America."

One of the reviewers wrote, "This is an outstanding research paper on an advanced topic in linguistics. This student explored a topic which required strong skills in linguistics and the Spanish language. His research engaged the scholarly literature at a very high level and utilized field work in South America. He wrote with a precise style in Spanish. The project was based on his extensive coursework and provided solid preparation for an academic career."

Congratulations, Joel!

2022 Prize for Undergraduate Library Research


The winner of the 2022 Prize for Undergraduate Library Research is Annika Duch! 

Annika is a student in Northwestern’s School of Nursing, and she submitted the paper she wrote for the Evidence-Based Services class. Her paper is entitled, “A Review on the Usage of the Uterotonics Oxytocin-Methylergometrine and Oxytocin-Misoprostol in Effectiveness of Maternal Outcomes in Postpartum Hemorrhage."

One of the faculty reviewers wrote, “This was a wonderfully written research paper and a true work of scholarship. It’s widely known that the world loses thousands of women every year to preventable deaths related to pregnancy, birth, and the acute postpartum period. It was encouraging to me to see a student paper focused on one aspect of this unacceptable reality. The tone was exceedingly professional, the organization was very clear, and the information was presented concisely."

Another reviewer wrote, “Great concise analysis of the research you surveyed—it was very clear in highlighting strengths and weaknesses. You presented findings with clarity, and the work felt reliable. . . Overall, fantastic job."

Congratulations, Annika! 

2021 Prize for Undergraduate Library Research


The winner of the 2021 Prize for Undergraduate Library Research is Madison Greven! Madison's paper is entitled, "Sentimental Morality: Warner, Stowe, Cummins, and the Development of Ethics in American Fiction" written for the Senior Capstone in Literature. One of the faculty reviewers wrote, "The author has written an excellent research paper which is firmly rooted in the analysis of literary texts and appropriate secondary literature. The paper demonstrates a solid understanding of literary style and historical context. The quality of writing is exceptional!"

Congratulations, Madison!

2020 Prize for Undergraduate Library Research


The seventh annual Prize for Undergraduate Library Research is awarded to Kelsey Pearson for her paper entitled, "Windows on All Sides: George MacDonald’s Framework for Hope through Suffering in At The Back of the North Wind" written for the Senior Capstone in Literature. Congratulations, Kelsey!


Awarded Research Papers and Essays - Previous Years


Elaina Tverberg

"'I Will Not Be Ungit': Exploring the Process of Santicification in C.S. Lewis' Til We Have Faces"

- Senior Capstone -


One reviewer wrote, "This is a strong paper with a significant topic, thoughtful research, and clear writing.


Hayley Loehlein

"Language Processing in the Bilingual Brain and its Applications for Teaching a Second Language"

- Honors Component Theory of Second Language Acquisition - 


This student has completed an excellent research project."


Curtis Baum

"Tracing Ideas of Musical Theology: Bach to Luther"

- Music History I -


One of the reviewers said of Baum's entry, "The work draws on an appropriate range of resources and carefully evaluates these works.  The writing is clear, thoughtful, and convincing." Another reviewer noted that Baum's paper was innovative, "exploring less-obvious connections between theology, history, and music."


Joshua Weber

"The Dragon's Phoenix: Epochs of Confucianism in Chinese Government Philosophy"

- History Seminar -


One of the faculty reviewers wrote, “This student describes an ambitious research project which led him to explore an off-campus research center in addition to the range of resources available via Northwestern.  The paper draft is clear and well-written; he clearly introduces his topic and provides evidence for his thesis.” Another reviewer described the paper as “superior in its gathering, synthesizing, and integrating of sources.”


Adam Saxton

"Just Intelligence: Normative Limits of Foreign Signals Intelligence"

- Senior Capstone -


One of the reviewers wrote, "I appreciate this essay's complexity, its sophistication - it connects unexpected (or, at least, non-obvious) sources, and it adds an ethical dimension and depth that's often neglected in broader coverage of this topic."  Another reviewer wrote, "This is a very comprehensive senior thesis that synthesized large amounts of research material.  Also, the reflective essay was very specific in search strategies and goals."


Amy Valine

"I'm Little but I'm Old:' Harper Lee's Significant and Effective Use of Retrospective First Person Narration in To Kill a Mockingbird"

- Literature Senior Capstone -


One of the reviewers said of her paper, “This is an outstanding paper and deserves high praise.”

Evaluation Rubric for Research Prize Entries